By Boris Pavlishchev
Tehran has called for the resumption of the six-party talks on the Iranian nuclear problem which it said should be conducted on a “constructive basis.” The proposal to this effect was submitted to EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton earlier this week, with Tehran pledging to announce some “new initiatives” during the much-anticipated talks that bring together five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany.
The six-party talks came to a standstill in Istanbul in January 2011, when the sides failed to reach an agreement on the agenda. Such a scenario was only natural, given Iran’s persistent reluctance to halt its uranium enrichment programme – a topic that has repeatedly come top of the international community’s agenda. The resumption of the six-nation talks on Iran hit the international headlines earlier this year, when Turkey signaled its readiness to contribute to the matter. Analysts remain downbeat about the resumption of what they say will be “negotiations about negotiations.” Meanwhile, Tehran remains optimistic about the topic. According to the Iranian Ambassador to Moscow Mahmoud Reza Sadjadi, “Tehran counts on a new meeting. “
The negotiations always bring together two sides and finding a solution to this problem is 50% up to us, Sadjadi says. The other 50 percent is up to our counterparts. In any case, we are poised to achieve a positive result, and we do not intend to obstruct the negotiations in any way. This was specifically mentioned by Mr.Jalili, the head of Iran’s National Supreme National Security Council, who submitted the relevant message to Lady Ashton earlier this week, Sadjadi goes on to say.
According to him, Tehran welcomes a proposal by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a step-by-step solutino of the Iranian nuclear problem. The bottom line is that the Iranian side should freeze the production of centrifuges in exchange for the Security Council’s pledge not to slap new sanctions on Iran. Lavrov’s plan also warns against any other unilateral steps in relation to Iran.
The next stage would imply that Tehran becomes a full member of the additional protocol to the agreement on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
However, welcoming the proposals does not necessarily mean being in full agreement with them. Although Lavrov’s plan is reasonable, Tehran is not prepared to agree to any pre-conditions, the ambassador continues.
“As for halting the increase in the number of centrifuges, I suppose both sides know that there should not be any pre-conditions for the talks”.
Russia and China are against the introduction of new sanctions against Iran. If a draft resolution to this effect is submitted to the UN Security Council, they will veto it. According to Head of the Centre of Public and Political Studies Vladimir Yevseyev, it would be reasonable to put the question in a different way.
“For example, the EU could reduce the number of sanctions against Tehran and Iran could respond by taking certain steps. While there can be no compromises with regardd to the nature of the relations between Iran and the UN now, this could be the case with regard to the relations between Iran and the EU, given that the Big Six include three EU member states. But Europe is not prepared for this and it is also unlikely to expect a positive response from Iran”.
In the last few days, a number of momentous events have taken place with regard to the Iranian nuclear program. The first fuel rods manufactured using Iran’s domestic facilities have been inserted into the reactor which produces medical isotopes for cancer treatment. A new line of uranium enrichment centrifuges has been put into operation. All this has prompted new statements in the Western media which claimed that Tehran was getting increasingly closer to making a nuclear bomb. Meanwhile, the IAEA has sent its high ranking representatives to attend a reception at the Iranian embassy in Vienna. Hopefully this conciliatory gesture will help create a friendlier atmosphere by the time the agency’s inspectors visit again Tehran on February 21-22.